“YES” on H.R. 1320/S. 475 – Juneteenth National Independence Day! – UPDATE!

UPDATED: The Senate just passed S.475 on Tuesday to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. No lawmaker objected to passage of the legislation for commemorating the end of slavery, and it now goes to the House, which is expected to pass it today.

Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past — but we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution,” stated Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Let’s take him at his word! Tell your senators to pass S.1 For the People Act and stop all the Jim-Crow voter suppression laws taking place around the country! Then, let’s work on HR 40Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act and H.R. 55Emmet Till Antilynching Act.

Action #1: Let’s join Opal Lee in making Juneteenth a federal holiday! And then let’s ask for more!

Juneteenth, also known as “Emancipation Day” or “Freedom Day,” is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States; however, it is not a national holiday. All of that will change if it has anything to do with the will of Opal Lee, a formidable 94-year-old who goes by the moniker Ms. Opal. If this indomitable nonagenarian has her way, Juneteenth (June 19) will become a federal holiday celebrated with all the pomp and circumstance of the Fourth of July because, as she reminds everyone, “We weren’t free in 1776!…Ms. Opal hopes that if she achieves her goal, the day will return to its original intent of educating, celebrating, informing, and bringing all people together. “I don’t mean just Black people,” she muses. “Nobody is free until we’re all free”

Over the past 40 years, 47 of 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have come to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or a day of observance (exceptions are North Dakota, South Dakota and Hawaii) , but it’s not yet a federal holiday. 

Let’s do our part. Call your legislators, even if this bill is passed before the day is out, and ask for more.

UPDATED Minimal script for Representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to thank Rep. [___] for voting “YES” on H.R.1320 – Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. Now that our country has recognized the importance of Juneteenth, it’s time to address other justice issues long denied. We ask Rep. [___] to encourage their fellow legislators to vote “YES” on HR 40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act and H.R. 55 – Emmet Till Antilynching Act, and H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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